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Why it was done the way it was

 
Created on 10/03/2011 @ 10:16
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Has there ever been a single event in the history of Welshpool that has sparked so much debate?
 
The one-way system finally seems to be flowing in the way that planners had anticipated but it created a fortnight of debate which, at times, spilled out of hand!
 
Cars are still whizzing around it the wrong way (mywelshpool’s co-founder was nearly hit head on as recent as Tuesday) and some businesses are feeling short changed so we thought it was time to get the full facts out in the open for you to decide for yourself whether it has been worth it.
 
We caught up with Town Clerk Robert Robinson (right) who has fronted the publicity campaign for the development and has had more sleepless nights than most over the last few weeks!
 
WHY DID THE ONE WAY SYSTEM OPEN BEFORE MILL LANE WAS REOPENDED?
The Welsh Assembly and Powys County Council had to set a date for the one way system to open; once this was approved the date had to stand. This is the way legally the approvals work. As Powys County Council confirmed it was too late and the opening date was committed.
 
WHY WAS THE SYSTEM NOT COMPLETED BEFORE IT OPENED?
The traffic islands and other parts of the system could not be completed before the system opened as they would have been in the way of two way traffic flows. The principle of bringing in the system quickly with the minimum of traffic controls was followed.
 
WHY WAS THERE A PROBLEM WITH QUEUES ON THE FIRST MORNING?
The system opened at 12.30am on Monday 21st February. The traffic light controls needed to be adjusted by 7.45am. They were put on manual control and the queues disappeared within 30 minutes. However, by 10.30am through to 1.30pm the queues came back along Salop Road. Since the first morning things have improved day by day. The mid morning traffic appeared to be increased due to people coming out to try the system out. We can only put it down to people getting used to the system. We did try our best on the day.
 
WHY WAS THERE SUCH A PROBLEM WITH DISABLED RAMPS?
The old ramps were removed and the new ones put in but closed off. This was not good and temporary ramps were installed to try and alleviate the problem. When you are resurfacing roads this is the only way to do it.
 
WHY WAS THE RESURFACING NOT DONE BEFORE THE ONE WAY SYSTEM OPENED?
The resurfacing was not done before the system opened as it causes less disruption to do this work when the system was in place without the need for traffic lights. The disruption would have been much worse if we had used traffic lights to control road works.
 
THE PERIOD OF THE WORKS?
The works, if not done the way they were, would have taken approaching 3 months. It was agreed between all parties involved that 3 weeks of disruption was better and that all should be done to finish the works in as shorter time as possible. In the end the programme from opening to end of works was 3 weeks. Traffic flows were not so different from normal during this time except on a few occasions. It should be noted that no extra traffic light controls were needed to implement the one way system. 
 
WAS THERE ENOUGH PLANNING?
The team has met every Tuesday morning over the past 5 months, and will do so for a while yet, to try and co-ordinate all the parties to try and get the best result and at the same time cover the concerns raised with us by residents.
The meetings have included Powys County Council, Welshpool Town Council, Tesco, McBurneys, Police, Cllr John Meredith and others from time to time including WAG. On some occasions residents or traders attended with specific problems to be considered.
 
WHY DID THE POSTS FOR THE SIGNS END UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PAVEMENT (right)?
The designs showed posts on the pavement but not where they were located. The posts were located due to services locations under the pavement. However, once this was known it was agreed that the posts should be altered or moved to solve the problem. This work will be done.
 
HOW DO WE KNOW IT WILL WORK IN THE SUMMER MONTHS?
The system was designed taking data from two years peak period traffic counts in the summer months when traffic is at its maximum. This was fed into the traffic computer which gave a model showing what the traffic would do with the one-way system. That showed it works. The traffic lights at the Cross will read the system as it is used to ensuring that the green light is longest where the traffic is. The signage is altering so that those travelling to the West are sent along the bypass to the station and then up Severn Street. The proof will be in the summer, the team are confident that it will work.
 
DID THE TAXPAYER PAY FOR ALL THIS?
No. The developers of the livestock market site have paid for it all as part of the planning consent granted. The whole system has been paid for in full by Tesco.
 
WAS THERE MUCH ABUSE?
No, not a lot, just a few people and mainly towards our councillors. The Councillors and I have done all they can to try and reduce disruption and certainly were not trying to make it more difficult. The Town Council has worked closely with Powys County Council to address all problems raised. Most people were objective and understanding and wish to pass judgement when the system has been up and running beyond Easter.
 
WHAT DO PEOPLE THINK ABOUT THE ONE WAY SYSTEM?
The opening week was difficult but more and more people are now coming around to saying that it is a good thing. There is certainly a majority in favour of the idea of a one way system instead of more traffic lights. Most people now understand that leaving the road system along was not an option offered to us.
 
HOW ABOUT TRADE?
There was possibly a drop in trade for some shops during the first week; this was mainly down to the negative publicity rather than the system. Since the first morning the system has run well with few queues and only on a few occasions has this not been the case (mainly due to resurfacing).
 
IS A REVIEW GOING TO BE HELD?
Yes. The system will be reviewed and any ‘tweeks’ made.
 
The town did look like ‘road work city’ for a few weeks while all parts of the system were completed together, however the team still thinks it was right to ‘go for it’ and get it all over as quickly as possible. 
 
The system was implemented and completed without the need for any traffic lights (other than the temporary ones at the Cross replacing the proper ones for a while). This method was less disruptive than bringing in traffic lights for parts of the work over a longer period, something that the team did not feel was the right way to complete the works. The traffic lights in Mill Lane were not connected with the one way system.
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